Tories set to disown European manifesto

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Indy Politics
THE TORY PARTY leadership is ready to disown a European manifesto to be published tomorrow by the European People's Party, the right-wing grouping in the European Parliament, write Colin Brown and Patricia Wynn Davies.

The EPP has an office at Conservative Central Office, but one senior party source said last night that the Conservative Party's European candidates would not be fighting under the EPP banner.

The Tory leadership is anxious to distance the party from the EPP manifesto, which is federalist, to limit its embarrassment in the June European elections and avoid reopening wounds over Maastricht. But some anti-Maastricht MPs said last night that it was bound to lead to further trouble.

The EPP, to which Tory MEPs belong, pledges to proceed resolutely with European integration; describes economic and monetary union as indispensible to stability and prosperity; and says the European Union is incomplete without the social chapter.

John Major told MPs on Tuesday 'neither the Conservative Party nor Conservative MEPs will be bound by that document.'

The Tories opened their Euro-election campaign yesterday with an attack on Labour's support for the European Socialist Manifesto.

Sir Norman Fowler, party chairman, and David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment, invoked the first draft of the manifesto, published last November.

Insisting Labour was committed to a 34-hour or four-day week that would cost business pounds 20bn and cause job losses, Mr Hunt quoted from the document: 'These measures must include a substantial cut in working time.'